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  • HR Heartbeat: Death to 3-day bereavement leaves, sexual misconduct in the workplace and...

HR Heartbeat: Death to 3-day bereavement leaves, sexual misconduct in the workplace and...

This week, learn how employers can nip sexual misconduct in the workplace in the bud, why you may need French lessons, plus what leave entitlement is increasing in Manitoba.

First published on Tuesday, Aug 08, 2023

Last updated on Wednesday, Aug 09, 2023

2 min read

Have you heard the latest news?

Welcome to HR Heartbeat, where we give you a rundown of the week's top employment law stories. Stay on the pulse of current trends impacting your business. Plus get up-to-the-minute commentary on all things HR and legal.

So, let's check out this week's headlines..

No means no, especially in the workplace

Ontario's Bill 26, Strengthening Post-secondary Institutions and Students Act, 2022, recently came into effect.

The Act requires all post-secondary institutions in the province to put sexual misconduct policies in place effective from July 1st 2023.

At the very minimum, this policy should include rules on sexual behavior between the institution's employees and students. The policy must also have clear disciplinary measures for those who disobey the rules of appropriate workplace conduct.

Although the legislation is targeted at educational institutions, employers all over the province should take note of its requirements as they can all benefit from it.

Even when the relationship is consensual, romantic workplace relationships with a power imbalance can create a conflict of interest or go sour and leave your business in a dicey situation.

Having a watertight policy regarding sexual misconduct in your workplace not only serves as a definitive guide for what inappropriate workplace behavior between your employees and their supervisors or managers can be, but it also helps protect your business from any liabilities. So, you're protected if an employee files a sexual harassment claim.

Ask BrightLightning " What do I do to stop sexual harassment at work?”

Death to 3-day bereavement leaves

Manitoba's Bill 235, the Employment Standards Code Amendment Act, came into force earlier this year. The Bill gives grieving employees more time to mourn the loss of a loved one by increasing their leave of absence entitlements.

Losing a loved one is distressing, and most people can't cope with work at such times—and they shouldn’t have to. It's good faith to grant your staff time off to process their loss, and employees in Manitoba are now entitled to 5 days of unpaid bereavement leave for the death of a family member.

Before this, employees only had three unpaid days of leave—which some would argue is not nearly enough time to grieve.

Employees could also only take bereavement leave when losing a direct relative like a parent or child. But leave entitlements have expanded. Your employees may now take up to 5 days of unpaid leave if they or their spouse or common-law partner experiences a loss of pregnancy.

Parlez-vous français?

It's time to bust out your French-speaking skills! The Use of French in Federally Regulated Private Businesses Act has recently received royal assent from the Canadian Legislature.

This means federal employers or business owners with staff in Quebec or regions with a significant French-speaking population must commit to a process of Francization.

Such employers must offer French language communication, computer systems, and supervision to employees who request it.

The Act is yet to come into full force, but it's worth getting prepared. The process will no doubt be time-consuming and obligations under this new legislation may cause disruptions to your business' communications and document and data management systems. Failure to comply with these new requirements may expose you to employee complaints and litigation. So, you’ll likely need guidance to go about it compliantly.

Don't fret if this all seems like a lot to handle. We recommend looking out for upcoming implementation guidelines and regulations from the Government. You can also speak with our employment relations specialists to better understand your legal obligations during this transition.

That's it for today! Come back next week for more HR news so you stay ahead of major employment law changes.

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